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FEEDINGS AND DIAPER CHANGES

In addition to tracking your own medications, you may be trying to keep track of your baby’s feedings and diaper changes. You can use Excel to keep tabs on this information, but working on a laptop while juggling a floppy newborn is not always so easy. If your smart phone has a spreadsheet program, now may be the time to try it. Or a notebook by your bedside will work just as well: Remember, you aren’t creating a permanent record but a temporary document to help you manage this first week or so.

Your pediatrician or lactation consultant may have asked you to keep track of the baby’s feeding times and the number of wet and poopy diapers to be sure she’s getting enough to eat. Your doctor or lactation consultant may even have asked you to keep a record of the color and consistency of your baby’s poop. Even if it wasn’t requested of you, many moms and dads are comforted by keeping a close eye on this information. If you want or need to track feedings and diapers, in Excel or in your baby journal, create a table with three columns, like so:

Time Event Details
10:11 AMAteAt breast for 20 min.
10:45Wet diaper
11:54AteAt breast for 15 min., fell asleep
12:45Poopy diaperYellow, soft
1:40AteAt breast for 20 min., switched side, nursed an additional 5 min.

I’ve kept both the diaper and the feeding information on the same document for two reasons: to make life easier for you and also because in this format, the information makes logical sense. Your baby’s care provider or your lactation consultant can look at the data here and see cause and effect right away because everything is listed in chronological order.

This is also a nice way to track your baby’s reaction to different kinds of feeding practices. For instance, if you are giving bottles for some feedings and notice that Baby is fussy soon after his bottle, you and his doctor will be able to deduce that he needs a different type of formula or nipple. This document can also accommodate other types of information your doctor may request, like sleeping habits or weight. Keep it simple and accurate.

You probably won’t need to track this information for long. Unless your baby has a low birth weight, issue with feedings, or some other health problem, you’ll find that tracking every feeding and diaper change becomes annoying and unnecessary pretty quickly. But some parents like to stick the document in their baby’s scrapbook to help them remember those first days of his life.

NO JERKS ALLOWED

Caring for yourself emotionally after giving birth is just as important as caring for yourself physically! You may be disappointed about how your birth experience went. You may find that motherhood is a lot harder than you expected or feel insecure about your parenting skills. And you may feel sad, angry, or down for no specific reason at all. This is all normal and an expected part of the first week postpartum.

In addition to talking over your feelings with a sympathetic friend; your doula, obstetrician, or midwife; or a therapist, be sure to carefully guard your psyche during this time by keeping emotional vampires away! You may be able to tolerate your bossy Aunt Edna just fine when everything is normal, but hearing her opinion on your baby’s “outlandish” name or her comments about how you’re spoiling her by picking her up too much may be more than you can bear when you’re already feeling insecure and shaky.

Now is the time to ask your spouse or a close friend to run interference between you and the difficult people in your life. Limit their access to you. If they do visit, keep it short. Let your husband show off the baby, explaining that you’re taking a nap . . . even if you’re just in the other room reading a magazine. Ask him to keep visits short—nobody should get to monopolize your baby right now except for you and Dad! You can always use Baby’s feeding or nap time as an excuse.

GETTING TO KNOW YOUR BABY

You’ll never have this precious time with your child again. So instead of worrying about whether the dishes are done, trust that whoever is on your “helper” list is doing what needs to be done and get as wrapped up in your baby as you want! It may seem hard to believe, but those delicate fingers and scrunched-up face will fill out all too soon, and even that head of soft newborn hair may soon be a thing of the past (it often falls out). Document all those things you’ll want to remember now. Use your baby journal liberally and take more pictures than seems reasonable. You will never look back at this time and think “I wish I hadn’t taken so many photos!” or, “I wish I hadn’t written down so many details about my baby’s first week!”

This is a good time to document your birth story, as well. The details fade fast. Write it yourself, or dictate to a good friend or your doula and ask them to write it up for you. Have your husband do the same thing and then compare notes. It’s amazing sometimes how different Mom’s and Dad’s versions of the big event are, and the different details that stand out as important to one or the other.

BABY, LOOK AT YOU NOW!

Every week, take one photo of Baby against a plain background or in the same chair.

I’ve seen some really cute photos done this way—against the backdrop of a chair or other object, it’s easier to see how much Baby’s growing from month to month. At the end of the year you’ll have a digital collage that can easily function as your (digital) holiday greeting card. You can make family and friends scattered across the globe feel connected to your experience. And all it will cost is a few computer keystrokes.

I’ve given you a lot of information to handle for somebody who’s just had a baby. But it’s all meant to make your life easier, not more difficult, this week. Feel free to use whatever seems helpful and discard the rest. Or hand this section to your friend or spouse and ask them to create the charts for you. Keep it simple so you can focus your brainpower on your baby!
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